Nov
9
to Dec 15

You hold me, as I fumble to emulate your care

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Opening Reception // November 9 2018 at 7pm

Performance of hamara badan by Farheen HaQ // November 9 2018 at 8pm

You hold me, as I fumble to emulate your care includes new work by Farheen HaQ, Kablusiak, and Nicole Kelly Westman, which speaks to the complexities of care, intimacy, vulnerability, and relationality through the lens of mothering. Curated by Ginger Carlson.


You hold me, I hold you

Essay by Ginger Carlson

O god save all the many gendered-mothers of my heart, & all the other mothers, who do not need god or savior,

our hearts persist in excess of the justice they’re refused.

-Dana Ward, “A Kentucky of Mothers”

 

I start here, so that you might know the breadth of my emulations. I fumble to emulate your care, and those of all the others that make up a body that labours and learns and fails and adapts. A plenitude of mothers, a multitude. A complexity that may evoke a categorization, and yes, can be sameness, but yet, it also resists these devices and vibrates perceptibly in difference. The mothering of and by and from alterity is a shifting relationality, a verbing, a dialogic, a subjectivity - it encompasses a way of thinking and an ethics of temporality. Mothering is a continuous separation and a becoming that is enacted.

I.

I mirror your voice. I inherit a mother tongue and I speak it to you. An acquisition of language is doubled by an acquisition of ethics, of listening, of reciprocity. But what if this language is not ours, really? When you find your language, is that a way of mothering too? Mothering your insides – your mind, your heart, your spirit, your lungs, your esophagus, your tongue, your very breath as it escapes. Is this an acquisition that is more your own?

Mother of, a script that might also be read as Singer of. A little closer to your breath and the vibrations of your body. Singer of your longing for language, your longing for home, your longing for closeness to those pieces of you that are far away and missing. A mothering that longs for you to know yourself better than the horizon knows the ocean; which is a touching, a grasping, but a dearth of distance nevertheless.

And sometimes these things really are only for you. You render them visible yet opaque by articulating their outlines. Their insides are not for everyone to know, and you learn their shapes better by pushing them out of your mouth. Some gaps were there already, but others you put there intentionally, a way of protecting through omission, a way of mothering. Someday you might fill in the lines, or maybe you won’t.

II. 

I lean into you. The clothes that I wear hold the shape of you too. We sink sublimely into each other and balance each other’s weights and burdens. This is an emulation that we both share, and I find myself searching for mothers in every posture, every desire, every action in the pursuit of generosity and justice, of occupying space, of holding space, of giving it up. 

Your labours here are not forgotten. You mothered tenacity and honesty, empathy and generosity in me. In the pursuit of carving out space you encountered derision and this mothered in me an awareness of the facets of patriarchy and the mechanics of authority. Your labours here are not forgotten, they are echoed. Refracting in my actions like reflected light, they create a colour spectrum.

And what about the open road? What about those open spaces do you find so appealing? Is it because she was there too, long before you, and she paved the way? Is it the journey or the destination, the spaces in between, where you start or where you end up, or is it the road itself that mothers you?

III.

I struggle with the weight of you. The circuitous route that you took to find your body helped me find my body too. One hundred and forty pounds of plenitude and nourishment that you shared with me. A sharing, an occupying, a heavy feeling around my insides – it is a kind of mothering. Over time it becomes a way of reconstituting. Constituting self with other, a fabric of knowing that is embodied and laboured upon. Inside my body, a multitude of bodies.

And they are made up of care, of hospitality. A radical precondition for ethics; an unconditional welcoming, untethered from those modes of thinking that commodify and categorize. This is a kind of mothering too, and it is a labour also. A materiality of labour: you give form to it, exteriorize it, offer up an outer economics of it. It feels insistent, and so you articulate it. You carry one hundred and forty pounds of it.

Let’s return again to insides. My insides feel knotted sometimes. You pour yourself out and the cup overflows and I almost drown in it. La mer, the sea, the mother - there is a drowning in mothering too. A fumbling, a floundering, a loss, a filling up and a pouring out. A kind of dying, a kind of offering, a kind of wet closeness to your organs, a kind of breaking them apart.

IV.

And here is where I turn to your hands. A mirroring that pushes outwards against its narrow framing, and lets a multiplicity of mothers in. To emulate, to receive, to reciprocate, to return. The many-gendered many-othered many mothers of my heart begin here, in your hands. You hold me, I hold you.

Ginger Carlson is the Executive Director of TRUCK. Previously, she was the Director of Untitled Art Society (2013 - 2016) and the Visual Arts Curator for the Sled Island Music and Arts Festival in Calgary (2015 - 2017). She sits on the Board of Directors for the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference, M:ST Performative Art Festival and is the acting Vice-President of the Alberta Association of Artist-run Centres. She has written essays and reviews for BlackFlash Magazine, Canadian Art, Luma Film and Media Art Quarterly, and SNAPline. In 2016, she received the Canadian Art Foundation Writing Prize.

Documentation by Nicole Kelly Westman


Farheen HaQ is a South Asian Muslim Canadian artist who has been living on unceded Lekwungen territory (Victoria, BC) for 20 years.  She was born and raised in Haudenosanee territory (Niagara region, Ontario) amongst a tight-knit Muslim community.  Her multidisciplinary practice which often employs video, installation and performance is informed by interiority, relationality, embodiment, ritual and spiritual practice. She has exhibited her work in galleries and festivals across Canada and internationally including New York, Paris, Buenos Aires, Lahore and Hungary. Farheen’s current work focuses on understanding her family history on Canadian territories, caregiving and the body as a continuum of culture and time.

Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk artist and curator based in Alberta and holds a BFA in Drawing from the Alberta College of Art and Design. They recently completed the Indigenous Curatorial Research Practicum at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Kablusiak uses art and humour as a coping mechanism to address cultural displacement. The lighthearted nature of their practice extends gestures of empathy and solidarity; these interests invite a reconsideration of the perceptions of contemporary Indigeneity.

Kablusiak is a board member of Stride Gallery (2016-present). Awards include the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize (2017) and the Primary Colours Emerging Artist Award (2018). They have recently shown work at Art Mûr as part of the Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (2018) and at the Athens School of Fine Arts as part of the Platforms Project (2018). Kablusiak, along with three other Inuit curators, will be creating the inaugural exhibition of the new Inuit Art Centre in 2020.

Nicole Kelly Westman is a visual artist of Métis and Icelandic descent. She grew up in a supportive home with strong-willed parents—her mother, a considerate woman with inventive creativity, and her father, an anonymous feminist. Her work culls from these formative years for insight and inspiration. Westman holds a BFA from Emily Carr University and is currently based in the parkland region of Alberta. Her writing has been published in Inuit Art Quarterly, C Magazine and Luma Quarterly.

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Nov
22
to Nov 25

Amanda Strong | GIRAF 14

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Exhibition // November 22 – November 25 2018

A behind-the-scenes look at the puppets and props created for Strong's imaginative stop motion animated films. This exhibition begins to show the intensive process behind stop motion animation through a look at the scale, intricate details, and method based decision making. Strong utilizes animation as a medium of storytelling to explore ideas of blood memory and indigenous ideology.

Presented in partnership with Quickdraw Animation’s GIRAF 14 Festival. For full line-up and tickets see their website here: http://www.giraffest.ca/


Amanda Strong is an Michif interdisciplinary artist with a focus on filmmaking, stop motion animations and media art. Currently based on unceded Coast Salish territories also known as Vancouver, BC, Canada. Strong received a BAA in Interpretative Illustration and a Diploma in Applied Photography from the Sheridan Institute. With a cross-discipline focus, common themes of her work are reclamation of Indigenous histories, lineage, language and culture. Strong is the Owner/Director/Producer of Spotted Fawn Productions Inc. (SFP). Under her direction SFP utilizes a multi-layered approach and unconventional methods that are centered in collaboration on all aspects of their work. 

Strong's work is fiercely process-driven and takes form in various mediums such as: virtual reality, stop motion, 2D/3D animation, gallery/museum installations, published books and community-activated projects. Strong and her team at Spotted Fawn Productions are currently working on the research and development of bringing these works into more interactive spaces. 

Most recently she was selected by renowned filmmaker Alanis Obamsawin to receive $50,000 in post-services through the Clyde Gilmour Technicolour Award. In 2016 she received the Vancouver Mayor's Arts Awards for Emerging Film and Media Artist. In 2013, Amanda was the recipient of K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Film and Video. Her films have screened across the globe, most notably at Cannes, TIFF, VIFF, and Ottawa International Animation Festival. She has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, BC Arts Council and the NFB. Spotted Fawn Productions is currently developing new short animations Wheetago War and Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes). SFP's latest short animations Four Faces of the Moon and Flood are available online through CBC Short Docs and CBC Arts. 

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Nov
15
to Nov 17

Show up for the Messiness of how you Feel so you can Better Create What you Need | FemmeWave

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Reception // November 17 2018 at 3:30pm

Show up for the Messiness of how you Feel so you can Better Create What you Need is a two person exhibition that brings together artists Adrienne Crossman and Jane Trash. Showing new and collaborative works the pair explore the complicated ways in which contemporary queers traverse a myriad of categories and labels to create a personal understanding of identity. 

Please join us for the closing reception on Saturday afternoon, November 17, 2018, from 3:30-5:00.

This exhibition is presented by Femme Wave Feminist Arts Festival. Femme Wave is a feminist arts festival that takes place on Treaty 7 territory and the traditional territory of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Nakoda (Stoney), and Tsuut’ina, also known as Calgary, Alberta. Founded in 2015, it is a collective-run organization with board and committee members of diverse and varying backgrounds. The festival takes place annually across multiple inner-city venues and has enjoyed considerable growth since its inception.


Adrienne Crossman is an artist and curator working and living in Windsor, Ontario. Her practice involves the exploration of non-normative and non-binary objects, characters and spaces, with a specific interest in queer potentialities within the non-human. Crossman creates queer interventions through the manipulation of digital media and popular culture and by locating queer sensibilities in the everyday. She is a sessional professor at McMaster University and holds an MFA in Visual Art from the University of Windsor, and a BFA in Integrated Media with a Minor in Digital and Media Studies from OCAD University. 

Jane Trash graduated from the Alberta College of Art & Design in 2004 with a BFA in Printmaking. Since then she co-founded a silkscreen based merchandising company, Jiffy-T, was an operational co-owner at Tubby Dog, is heavily involved with all ages promotion in the Calgary punk rock scene and was voted Top-40-Under-40 in Avenue Magazine (2013) for her involvement in the community and various charity work. Trash’s interest and exploration of puppet fabrication lead to an introductory puppet seminar in LA at Michael Earl’s Puppet School in 2014. Trash is on the Board of The New Gallery and she is currently working at Alberta College of Art & Design as the Educational Art Technician of Print Media.

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Sep
7
to Oct 20

Entertaining Every Second | Life of a Craphead

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Opening Reception // September 7 2018 at 7pm

Artist Talk // October 2 2018 at 7pm

Performance, various locations // October 7 2018 from 12pm-5pm

Entertaining Every Second is a new body of performance and sculptural work by Life of a Craphead (Amy Lam and Jon McCurley) that engages with experiences and representations of western imperialism in Asia. The title of comes from a Nam June Paik quote: “I am a poor [wo]man from a poor country, so I have to be entertaining every second.”

Specifically for M:ST, Life of a Craphead are undertaking a new performance project that involves researching a tragic part of Jon’s family history, where his grandmother was robbed and killed by an off-duty U.S. soldier during the American War in Vietnam. According to a rumour in the family, the soldier subsequently served a two-year prison sentence in the U.S. and is still living in the Midwest. Life of a Craphead are trying to find out the true story, which is obscured by the lack of documentation around Vietnamese victims of the war. This includes requesting records from the U.S. National Archives and interviewing Jon’s family.


Science Fiction

Essay by Jason Hirata

There is fiction in the space between

The lines on your page of memories

Write it down but it doesn't mean

You're not just telling stories There is fiction in the space between

You and reality

You will do and say anything

To make your everyday life seem less mundane

There is fiction in the space between

You and me

 

There's a science fiction in the space between

You and me

A fabrication of a grand scheme

Where I am the scary monster

I eat the city and as I leave the scene

In my spaceship I am laughing

In your remembrance of your bad dream

There's no one but you standing

 

Leave the pity and the blame

For the ones who do not speak

You write the words to get respect and compassion

And for posterity

You write the words and make believe

There is truth in the space between

 

There is fiction in the space between

You and everybody

Give us all what we need

Give us one more sad sordid story

But in the fiction of the space between

Sometimes a lie is the best thing

Sometimes a lie is the best thing

 

Oh the best thing

Is the best thing 

The ache of Tracy Chapman's deadpan resolve to turn her words over to we delicate listeners as though cut directly from artist to audience is a pain congruent with history as much as it is with love and affection.  Her words bite and grip in a way that is cause for examination—of distance, of contiguity, of distinction. I recall the song here because I want to speak of history through the music[1] of the present (as though history’s here in this room with us–which it is) and because as artists we want to disenchant the cruel tricks, forgeries and science fictions we are all forced to live with.

The work of Life of a Craphead—their stoicism and unpretending humor—is something I’ve known them to cultivate amidst cascades of bad (world) news and amongst a huge family of friends. Affection, which comes easy to them, is a wonderfully connective force through which something like empathy[2] travels: first across bodies, then across time, and again back to bodies long forgotten or concealed. This is to say that the emotive contributions of Amy and Jon’s practice come from a preoccupancy that seeks to extend the in-the-hand possibilities of an encounter with a work of art to something that might bring history and the supposedly deeply wrought lessons it offers to bear on itself (as well as the abyssal failure of such lessons and offerings).

When Chapman sings that “there’s a science fiction in the space between you and me” I propose this to mean that the transversive zone between bodies, by which common-knowledge would have us believe identity is made discontiguous and individual, is in fact the work of science and fiction alike. We live in an invention, you see–the world. Hurting me hurts you, and while I maintain that for you, my pain is most likely not understandable I know that, for you, yours most likely is.[3]

Leave the pity and the blame

For the ones who do not speak

You write the words to get respect and compassion

And for posterity

You write the words and make believe

There is truth in the space between

There is a monopoly on contiguity[4] that places prisons and factories in the distant outskirts (away from family, home… life) and endlessly drafts and redrafts borders, rights, citizens, soldiers, and enemies. Contiguity—the state of being in contact, proximity or touch—when restricted, dulls the affection with which we might consider one another and distances our actions from the political urgency, efficacy and weight that they truly pitch. That we are not in touch is a fiction. The science of posterity as figured by forces like the state and the rule of law and property is a fiction. The necessity of bounded exclusionary zones and punishment is a fiction. The necessity of war and victory is a fiction. In the space, just space, dead space– In the abyss between you and me you move an inch to the right and low and behold you bump into a body, a cousin; an inch to the left, a mother, a daughter...

The “truth” then, “in the space between” lies in the fact that this depth is populated not by worded stories but bodied ones and that the segregatory defenses against this population[5] are in fact manned[6] and thus ultimately human and bodied as well.

Amy and Jon’s rageful and loving destruction comes across somehow as light and immediate as a kiss on the cheek, and the joie-de-vivre with which these gestures land comes with the promise that you can hug and slap a ghost, deceased or living. What I mean—and what their work tells me—is that the past is not asleep: you can, with little pomp and circumstance, have the impossible conversations through which the world might be rendered capable of a human response[7].

[1] An adult contemporary song from 2000 is not exactly a current top 40, but what I mean by ‘music’ in this case is lyricism, poetry, or feeling.

[2] There’s a problem with this word: empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings. The ableist belief in the primacy of understanding and logic that sets every imaginable state and situation neatly in line in an indexically fungible (exchangeable) grid of possibilities is one that turns the un-indexibal or un-understandable into the impossible. Affinity is a better word.

[3] See probably Fred Moten and Stefano Harny. The Undercommons, 2013.

[4] See Ruth Wilson Gilmore. In the Shadow of the Shadow State. The Revolution Will Not be Funded, 2009.

[5] See Hans Haake’s 2000 artwork Der Bevölkerung.

[6] ‘Manned,’ as in operated by a human and ‘manned’ as in operated by masculine patriarchal vision.

[7] See Hortense J. Spillers. On the Idea of Black Culture, 2006. In this essay Spillers explains Black Culture to be the work of saving the world from the regime of capital, expansion and militaristic dominion (the inventions and tools of white settler-colonialist global empire and business). Our salvation as a species, she explains, depends on wresting control of the world from the cold machinic logic of capital and rendering its faculties capable of a human response.

Jason Hirata, born 1986, Seattle, examines the historical conditions of culture, social space, revolution and labor. Past works have lifted menus and meal plans of internment camps for people of Japanese ancestry from the archives of the U.S. Army Western Defense Command; reproduced Goya’s renderings of famine, in which peasants eat the blight-resistant yet neurotoxin-containing grass pea; investigated the application of theories of shareholder value to General Electric by its notorious CEO Jack Welch; and re-positioned LED streetlamp hardware at eye level, reproducing the condition of hyper- visibility so that sight is overwhelmed by illumination. Hirata’s works connect historical sites to show how financial speculation and risk are managed and implemented alongside a precarious model of the social. In his sculptures, drawings, and performances he examines how state and corporate practices and structures transform the cultural and material reproduction of life.


Life of a Craphead is the collaboration of Amy Lam and Jon McCurley. Their work spans performance art, film, and curation. The name Life of a Craphead comes from the opening joke of the very first live comedy routine they performed together in 2006. Their work investigates, through the central principle of humour, the different ways in which power and authority are deployed. Projects include King Edward Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don (2017), a public art project where they floated a replica of a colonial statue down a river in Toronto;  Bugs (2016), a feature-length film about a bug society; and The Life of a Craphead Fifty-Year Retrospective, 2006-2056, a fake museum exhibition of all of the work they will ever make (2013). They also organized and hosted the performance art show Doored from 2012-2017. Life of a Craphead has exhibited across Canada and the U.S. and has been featured in Art in America, Canadian Art, Washington Post, CBC, VICE, and others. Amy is Chinese and Jon is Vietnamese-Irish, and they live and work in Toronto, Canada.

Image credits: Diane + Mike Photography

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Aug
6
to Sep 30

Saintes | Rosalie H. Maheux

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Saintes is an installation incorporating a series of resin sculptures casted from the inside of hollow Virgin Mary statues. By treating the negative space inside the statues as the “new icon”, Rosalie H. Maheux removes both physical and psychological aspects related to the Virgin Mary, thus offering a contrasting new perspective on the representation of women.

With the shapes obtained from the interior cast of the hollow statues and the re-appropriation of catholic shrines, the work confronts the idea of procreation versus pleasure while proposing an intergenerational and critical conversation between the artist’s catholic cultural background and her feminist views.

The creation of this work was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des Arts du Canada and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. 

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.


Rosalie H. Maheux was born in a small town on the South shore of the Saint Lawrence River, Québec, Canada in 1988. Maheux obtained an Honours Bachelor of Arts - Specialist in Studio from the University of Toronto, in 2014. She now lives and works in Toronto, Canada and focuses primarily on sculpture and installation.

Her work has been featured in many group shows and has been presented in solo shows at the Y+ Contemporary Gallery (2016) and Gallery on Wade (2016), in Toronto. In 2016, she was an artist in residence at Eastside International in Los Angeles, California. Recent activities include a public installation in Fredericton, New Brunswick in partnership with Third Space Gallery, Saint-John, New Brunswick (April 2018) and an upcoming awarded residency for Emerging Artist at Spark Box Studio, Ontario (October 2018)

Rosalie H. Maheux is also the visual half of STRANDS, a performative and musical collaboration project with musician Jasmyn Burke.

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Screwdriver for Mary | Marika Vandekraats
Jun
22
to Jul 14

Screwdriver for Mary | Marika Vandekraats

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Exhibition // June 22 July 14 2018

Reception // June 22 2018 from 3:00 - 6:00PM

Performance // June 23 2018 from 1:00 - 5:00PM at Central Memorial Library

In the performance, Washing Hands in the Shape of My Mother’s Hands, Marika Vandekraats washes the hands of participants with a soap casted from her mother’s hand, sharing a brief experience of familial care. The hand-wash station will be set up in the Central Memorial Park, with an open invitation for anyone to participate. Over time, the soap will break down and dissolve the fingerprints, removing the identity, and leaving behind a faint scent of clean hands.

A concurrent exhibition, Screwdriver for Mary, takes place in TRUCK Contemporary Art, screening a new video work and installation that is built on the memories of maternal care, touch, soap bubbles. The imprints of care one receives dissolves through time to integrate into a larger weave of one’s being. Its assurance looms writ large as memory, promise, or reciprocation.

Presented in partnership with Sled Island Music & Arts Festival.


Marika Vandekraats is a visual artist currently based in her home city of Vancouver. She previously lived in Rotterdam, NL, where she began experimentation into performances and site-specific based work. Currently, her work focuses on the human personalities given to non-human elements in life. Through assemblage Vandekraats questions the assumed actions and expectations of commonplace objects. She pushes such expectations until the objects exhaust their own functions and begin to produce something anew. Marika Vandekraats received her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2016 and currently works at the James Black Gallery.

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WE ARE WALLED | Xiaoyu Sun
Jun
22
to Jul 14

WE ARE WALLED | Xiaoyu Sun

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WE ARE WALLED is a video installation about “the Great Firewall”. In China, there is a surveillance apparatus that is called “the Great Firewall”, which blocks internet access and controls internet traffic. WE ARE WALLED explores the influence of this “wall” on Chinese people who have experienced living inside of it and outside of it.


Xiaoyu Sun is a Master of Fine Arts Candidate in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary. After graduating from University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, she had been working as a graphic designer for one year. In 2016, she decided to go back to school to pursue a Masters degree. She started her research from a phenomenon called “Quantified-Self” to the relationship between technology and human. Now, she is doing the research on the topic of “the Great Firewall”. She was shortlisted by Hague Video Award and her work has been shown in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary.

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Projections ± Predispositions | Brandon Giessman
Jun
6
to Jul 31

Projections ± Predispositions | Brandon Giessman

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Projections ± Predispositions considers the parallels between exclusion from public and private spaces, through the dual lenses of marginalization and trauma, which work to sever confidence in safety and bodily autonomy. Soil from past installations creates a bed, a place for potential growth, reflection, and rest, while a distressed sheet evokes intimacies between those who have been, are, and will be. The surrounding pansies are disrupted by barbed wire, violent boundaries demanding exile, submission, and observation. As the flowers wilt due to a lack of care, the wire makes its presence increasingly known, holding up the plants as examples of what is to come as these structures remain.


Brandon Giessmann is a Canadian visual artist and writer who explores how trauma, gender, and sexuality intersect in response to notions of identity and its related politics. Giessmann is interested in codifying and veiling information to consider how his projects interact with one another, the spaces they inhabit, and how reusing materials can inform present and future work. Installations and performances become vessels for conversation and reflection, where he addresses his own trauma, the process of healing, and his fear of social and institutional repercussion as a gay man. These thoughts are translated into various collections of critical text, creative writing, and visual art that help him understand his own positions and feelings regarding these often confusing topics and the disorientation he continues to experience due to his privileges as a cisgender white male recovering from past sexual assault and abuse. Brandon Giessmann is a recent BFA graduate from the Alberta College of Art + Design and is a University at Buffalo MFA candidate. 

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-PATHIE | Andrée-Anne Roussel
Jun
1
to Jul 14

-PATHIE | Andrée-Anne Roussel

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Opening Reception // June 1 2018 at 7:00PM

-PATHIE is an interactive installation featuring video elements and a kinetic sculpture, revolving around the themes of engagement and apathy. It questions our relationship with the world, and with works of art in particular.

In concert with the exhibition, TRUCK & Shelf Life Books are pleased to present a reading room in the Parkade Space, which includes content that aligns with the exhibition and expands on its ideas.


-PATHIE

Essay by Nathalie Bachand

What is at work while we give attention to things around us?

Which kind of engagement does this represent?

Are we then engaged with reality?

Are we away from it?

Or from us? 

-PATHIE, an interactive video installation by Montreal artist Andrée-Anne Roussel, is composed of three projections (two large and one smaller), a flat screen, as well as a kinetic sculpture. The ensemble is cinematic, creating a distance between the viewer and the projections, while the materiality of the sculpture simultaneously produces a sense of proximity, a contradiction that results in a sense of ambivalence, when considering the entirety of the installation. The sculpture is made of a coffee cup installed on a base elevated to eye level. Observation of this everyday object, both mundane and familiar, creates a reflex of recognition, the sensation of being in a known world. But which world is not that clear. While approaching the object, one notices that it acts, in fact, outside of the logics of our world: the coffee inside the cup starts slowly whirling, as if moved by an invisible force – but from where, or by what, is this force originating? Does it come from us, the viewers?

Invisible forces are at work throughout the project. The invisible here acts not only as a driving force that induces, perhaps, mysterious movement that flows from us, but it is also a form of attention. To be attentive is an invisible way to engage with reality: no movement, no sound, not much else other than witnessing the world around us. Attention may also take the mask of apathy, or its good-looking mirror, empathy. While we watch the two large projections in the space, we can see this tiny boundary between apathy and empathy: each character is acting in a very non expressive way so that we cannot tell what their feelings really are. They are, however, attentive. And while we may think that they are detached because of their non expression, they may rather be strongly engaged with the world. Cunningly echoing this engagement, we perceive the movements that animate the objects: a hanger, a screw, a knife, an egg, a plant, and again, the coffee that whirls with regularity inside a cup.

Objects are framed in all four sequences. In the projections, there is an almost unnoticeable connection between them and the characters: objects are in sight, silently observed in the daylight. Then on the flat screen, they are alone, moving by themselves, animated by a life, a will, or a blind force. Here, in tight framing, the moving objects are underlined as quotations. What do the objects say about themselves if not that they are breaking up with reality in a way that we do not control? Or maybe we are in control without knowing it? Which brings up the question of interactivity, of its modality and degree of demonstrability. Are we activating something? How can we know if this is the case? Interactivity is often understood as an active, even proactive, way to engage with artworks. Providing the public with a sense of amazement and the desire to entertain generally lies behind interactive work, as if it has to be impressive, playful, and appealing in order to manipulate, often operating through a tactile mode. But we are not there: the interactivity here should be comprehended as a means for a mere presence to influence the environment around it, just by being there, by existing. Have we forgotten that the fact of being alive has an effect on the world and its matter? 

-PATHIE works as an environment wherein reality is not given as something obvious. Characters see things, while they are simultaneously seen through other lenses: an infinity of active perspectives coexist in the same room, as we may witness in the smaller projection. Forces here are so slightly visible, and yet, they create a complex play of interactions, as subtle as the air when there’s no wind; the light, allowed by an open window; the glowing dust in the sun at 6pm; the dust again, blown by our breath. Environments and objects are constantly reflecting and capturing micro changes happening all around: we don’t notice it, but absolutely everything is in motion, always. Similarly, attention slowly moves from one thing to another, alternating between apathy and empathy – engaging itself with the world.

Nathalie Bachand is an art writer and curator. Actively involved in the cultural field, she regularly writes on the visual and media arts. She is interested in the issues of digital technology and its conditions of emergence in contemporary art. In 2016, Bachand co-curated, with Chloé Grondeau, the exhibition ADC/DAC by the New York artist Phillip David Stearns, presented at Diagonale as part of the BIAN’s 3rd edition. Most recently, she was curator of the group exhibition The Dead Web – La fin, presented at Eastern Bloc, and of the project of 32 exhibitions UN MILLION D'HORIZONS of the Accès culture network for the 375th anniversary of Montréal, which took place in the summer of 2017. Bachand currently holds the position of direction of cultural knowledge for the centre en art actuel Sporobole where she writes short essays on art-science relationships.


Andrée-Anne Roussel is both a filmmaker and new media artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in film production and a Masters in Communications (concentration in research-creation of experimental media) from l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Her interactive video installations and sensory short films are the result of her research on themes of ambiguity, failure, fragility and empathy. Her work has been shown at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival, Musée d’art de Joliette and at LABoral Centre de Arte.

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Hot Mess | Madeleine Mayo
Apr
6
to May 31

Hot Mess | Madeleine Mayo

In the confusion and the disrepair there continues to be an undeniable attraction, fuelled by a certainty that impossible things do happen. 


Madeleine Mayo (b. 1981, London, Ontario, Canada) holds a BFA in Painting from OCADU (The Ontario College of Art and Design University) and is currently an MFA candidate at Concordia University. Mayo’s practice is situated at the interstices of painting and sculpture which employs figurative and abstract tropes as a vehicle to engage with the formal and effective experience of colour, mimetic representation, and of her own subjective relationship to these objects as manifestations of love and desire.

Mayo currently lives and works in Montreal. She was the recipient of Tom Hopkins Graduate Award in Painting & Drawing and the Dale and Nick Tedeschi Studio Arts Fellowship Graduate Awards. She has also taught both academic and studio courses at Concordia University.

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La Guaria Morada | Juan Ortiz-Apuy
Mar
23
to May 5

La Guaria Morada | Juan Ortiz-Apuy

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Opening Reception // March 23 2018 at 7:00PM

In La Guaria Morada, tropical orchids, an ultrasonic industrial humidifier, and dehumidifiers are assembled to form an artificial environment in a perpetual state of negotiation and precarity. Centred around the national flower of Costa Rica, the installation serves as an homage to Ortiz-Apuy’s country of origin, and functions as a metaphor for situations caught in similarly uncertain and precarious conditions. La Guaria Morada is a fragile ecosystem. Dependent on the gallery’s lighting and staff to sustain it, the orchids parallel the art object, maintained via systems that aim to foster and nourish artistic practice, and to artist-run centres, equally requiring perpetual effort and negotiation in order to survive.

The creation of this work was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

The wall paint for this exhibition has been generously donated by Cloverdale Paint.


Juan Ortiz-Apuy’s La Guaria Morada (2018). Truck Gallery, Calgary

Essay by Tammer El-Sheikh

My partner’s mother Carol keeps 20 orchids in her Jimtown, Nova Scotia home. They’re potted with bark to keep the roots aerated, and placed in front of North-facing windows for cold snaps to set the bloom. With her sisters, Carol conspires to protect the orchids from critters, pets, and the moody Atlantic weather. The Los Angeles flower district occupies a few blocks along 7th St. Big orchid wholesalers share the area with a homeless population stretching south from Skid Row. Some 17,000 people live out of tents amidst the flower stocks. I haven’t found estimates of the orchid population there, but I like to think it’s around 17,000 – one per resident. 

To these images of beauty and vulnerability, add Juan Ortiz-Apuy’s La Guaria Morada. Orchid plants hang 56” off the ground, at the standard height for museum displays. They are spliced to hunks of bark and suspended by airplane wire against “evening blue” walls. Ortiz-Apuy is fond of factory paint names, and the atmospheres they evoke. But the plants are indoors, hidden away from the sky, like the pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Evocation is slippery. These orchids are not Jimtown orchids, or Skid Row orchids, but they’re close. As the national flower, purple orchids enjoy great visibility in Costa Rica, but here they’re in hiding, or waiting, or triage. This is not their natural habitat, but it’s close. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers simulate a tropical garden in the wrong place and out of season. For Ortiz-Apuy, the plants are “hustling” in Calgary. 

They will grow slowly here, or one imagines - perpetually. Development in Costa Rica is a lot like this too - perpetual, precarious, and aimed at a curated beauty. Ortiz-Apuy moved from Costa Rica to Montreal in 2003 and has travelled back only twice since. After ten, nearly uninterrupted years away, he wished with this work to make a touristic homage to his country of origin. The view of La Guaria Morada is a visitor’s view, but collaged together, with conspicuous joints. In much of Ortiz-Apuy’s work, collage is a method. He keeps a meticulously indexed library of National Geographic issues and Ikea catalogues at the studio. La Guaria Morada mingles the visual languages of documentary photography and advertising, in its clinical arrangement of plants, and colour-coordinated humidifiers. Costa Rica is cast here as an idea, laid open to innocent curiosity and to consumer choice. 

La Guaria Morada’s elements function as interior signs of a partially-recalled tropical outside. But what of this outside, and of its history? Costa Rica is carefully arranged to show or conceal its cracks as needed. Roads through the Monteverde rainforest are deliberately left unmaintained by the parks service to sustain an air of wilderness for eco-tourists. Elsewhere, private resorts have displaced Indigenous and farming communities. Costa Rica’s recent economic history, or ‘development’ follows on decades of World Bank-mediated, US investment and meddling in the region to combat socialism, and extract fruit, rubber, and oil for international markets. La Guaria Morada’s delicate balance, between hung flowers, and the inputs and outputs of humming climate-control appliances is a striking metaphor for the phenomena of resource preservation and extraction in Latin America, and beyond in the Global South.   

Ortiz-Apuy’s sculptural language owes a debt to the readymade. In The Lovers: Hunter and Kenmore (2013), he joined a humidifier and dehumidifier at the lips, as it were, in a pose of absurd co-dependence. With this earlier work, Ortiz-Apuy rewrites the Dadaist’s script for the readymade as a cyborg romance in a department store. Through Ortiz-Apuy’s art we re-read the cool, spare industrial parts aesthetic of the readymade in relation to absented people. His response to Dada offers an abstracted social realism for our times, and for this place. Just as La Guaria Morada points outward to an increasingly uncertain planetary horizon, the work’s association of care, Sisyphean labour, and beauty is also site-specific, and in dialogue with the fragile ecosystem of artist-run culture. In all this, Ortiz-Apuy encourages us to pause on the repeated coupling of beauty and vulnerability, from Monteverde, to Jimtown and LA, to Truck’s temporary home for a few purple orchids.  

Tammer El-Sheikh is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia. He received his PhD from McGill University in 2013 for his work on the reception of Palestinian-American literary critic Edward Said within the discipline of Art History. Since then, his teaching and writing have focused on contemporary art and identity politics. His scholarly writing has appeared in the periodicals ARTMargins and Arab Studies Journal, and most recently in the anthology edited by Martha Langford and titled Narratives Unfolding: National Art Histories in an Unfinished World (MQUP, 2017). His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, Parachute, C Magazine and ETC Magazine. He is the Montreal correspondent for Akimbo


Juan Ortiz-Apuy was born in Costa Rica in 1980. He has lived and worked in Montreal since 2003. Ortiz-Apuy holds a BFA from Concordia University (2008), a Postgraduate Diploma from The Glasgow School of Art (2009), and an MFA from NSCAD University (2011). His work has been exhibited across Canada and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Museum London, Gallery 44, Gallery TWP, Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, The MacLaren Arts Centre, A Space Gallery, and the Quebec City Biennial: Manif d'art 7. His work has been reviewed in various publications including Canadian ArtLe Devoir [Montreal], The Gazette [Montreal], The Telegram [St. John's], The Toronto Star, and MOMUS. Ortiz-Apuy has recently completed Artist-in-Residency programs at The Atlantic Centre for the Arts (USA), The Vermont Studio Center (USA), and The Frans Masereel Centre (Belgium). Upcoming projects include a residency at the IKEA Museum (Sweden), as well as exhibitions at Les Abattoirs Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (France), and Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa). 

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